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News  


 

Top EU man backs Lanka

Sri Lankan born Vice President of the Committee on Overseas Development of the European Parliament, Niranjan Deva-Aditya (Nirj Dev) yesterday condemned more than ten impossible conditions set by the EU to renew Sri Lanka’s GSP Plus facility as interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state.
Deva-Aditya told The Nation that it was up to the parliament, government and people of Sri Lanka to decide on the laws that should govern them and not the business of ex-colonial masters to instruct a former colony what to do.

The EU last week laid down a total of 15 conditions to Sri Lanka requesting a written undertaking by July 01 to implement them in order for it to extend it a for limited additional period from August 15, when the present facility comes to an end. These included demands to fully comply with the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights, amend sections of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and Public Security Ordinance, implementation of the 17th Amendment, repeal 2005 Emergency Regulations, extend invitations to top UN officials, publication of names of LTTE combatants in custody and granting of access to all places of detention.

Deva-Aditya, who has been waging a battle on behalf of Sri Lanka in this regard during the past many months, said it was not the 700 elected fellow MPs of the European Parliament that was making all these demands, but the European Commission (the civil service) at the behest of the European Council (the second chamber) made up of European government ministers.

As far as the demand for complying with the covenants of the ICCPR, he said it was fair since Sri Lanka had signed it some years back. “Since the country has signed the agreement there is no choice but to meet its obligations, but other demands are gross interference in the country’s internal affairs”, he said.
In his opinion, Deva-Aditya said it would suffice for the Sri Lankan government to give a written undertaking by July 01 to comply with ICCPR to obtain the extension to GSP Plus.

The Government, on Wednesday, rejected the EU’s fresh demands stating that it had gone beyond earlier stipulations pertaining to labour issues and was trying to dictate political changes which could not be complied with.
Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told the post Cabinet media briefing that EU’s fresh demands violated the integrity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka and involved changes to the constitution, which the government was not prepared to do.
Minister Rambukwella noted that the loss of the facility would only cost Sri Lanka $ 150mn a year and in a way it was good as it would force the local industry to develop in order to survive.
A leading garment industrialist too noted that what was being asked by the EU now was even more than what opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe had been demanding.
Sources said removal of the facility would also hit European and American industrialists who have made some heavy investments in the apparel sector here like Brandix, Intimissimi, Victoria’s Secret and Marks and Spencer.